To the Editor:
I am heartened that policy leaders and school administrators increasingly are embracing financial incentives as a means to attract more-qualified teachers to the schools and students who need them most (“Teacher-Pay Incentives Popular But Unproven,” Sept. 27, 2006). It is imperative, however, that the voice of teachers not be left out of the discussion.
Certainly, some current plans have merit. Rewarding teachers who sign on to work in high-needs schools and those who help students make progress toward academic standards is a logical starting place, but, as they say, the devil is in the details. These measures must be accompanied by a clear and realistic understanding of which incentives—financial and otherwise—are likely to be effective, and of what role various measurements of student progress can play, or not, in accurate and reliable teacher-assessment systems. If teachers are not at the table to provide their perspective, policies are likely to be incomplete at best and completely ineffective at worst.
As you have reported, our TeacherSolutions initiative has assembled a diverse team of 18 accomplished teachers to examine just these issues (“Teachers Recruited to Find Solutions to Vexing Policy Issues,” July 12, 2006). These expert teachers embrace the idea of paying teachers differently, and will make their initial recommendations public this winter.
Founder and President
Center for Teaching Quality
Chapel Hill, N.C.
A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 2006 edition of Education Week as Teachers Need a Voice in Debate on Pay Incentives